The following is the second part of the Akahata interview with Japanese Communist Party Chair Shii about the political situation in Japan and the tasks of the Japanese Communist Party. The first part of the interview was printed in the previous (January 10 issue) issue of the Japan Press Weekly.
LDP politics is moving away from its previous direction. This is a clear sign that it has dramatically been weakened or even lost the ability to run the country. This is due to the serious breakdown of the two main ruling forces which Japanese political rulers have represented: Japan's business sector and financial circles, and U.S. hegemony. The political degradation or decadence of the Aso Cabinet is its symbolic manifestation.
The current movement toward establishing a "two-party system" in Japan was started as a life preserver for the LDP government. However, many people have seen the ruling LDP-Komei coalition and the Democratic Party involved in similar party politics without paying regard for the well-being of the public and are now saying, "We are fed up with the LDP-Komei politics. We cannot trust the DPJ, either." This shows that the life-prolonging scheme is not working well.
At a time when the public is increasingly critical of the authoritarian behavior of the financial circles and large corporations, the two "major parties" are unable to speak out against them. This is a disastrous weakness they cannot overcome. When the adverse effects of the financial circles and large corporations caught public attention in the 1960s and the 1970s, not only the JCP but also other opposition parties criticized the large corporations. Even the LDP in its policy paper stated that it is necessary to overcome its belief that large corporations should be the main players. Today, however, only the JCP speaks out against the big business-first policy even though the financial circles and large corporations are a major social problem. The present situation is very easy to understand in the sense that we can evaluate a political party using the simple question: "Is it a party capable of speaking out against large corporations? Or, is it a party that acts according to what large corporations tell them to do?"
Of course, it would be wrong to underestimate the forces that are trying to establish a "two-party system" with the aim of squeezing the JCP out of the political arena. I also want to stress that Japanese politics is entering a new era that offers choices other than the "two-party framework" forcing voters to choose "the LDP or the DPJ." This is because the financial circles and large corporations, the architects of the "two-party system," are failing to implement their basic policy line.
A general view of the present situation in Japan and the rest of the world shows the advent of a new historic era that calls for Japanese politics to break away from LDP policies and move to establish a democratic government in which the people are the key players. Let us have confidence in this development and make efforts in the upcoming House of Representative general election to achieve a major advance of the JCP, the bearer of a new political paradigm.
Even if the current political situation offers us possibilities to make a major JCP advance, we will not be able to make use of it without a strong party. Last year, the party achieved results that show we will be able to register a major JCP advance in the House of Representatives general election.
First, last year was an historic year marking the start of a social counterattack against the policies that destroyed the well-being of the public.
At its 24th Congress three years ago, the JCP called on the people to unite and stand up against the destruction of their well-being under the slogan, "Build social solidarity to make a social counterattack." Last year, the full-fledged social counterattack started addressing various issues, including employment, social services, agriculture, peace, and the Constitution.
It is particularly important to note that workers and young people began to take part in the struggle last year in increasing numbers. Amid large corporate layoffs, workers in many parts of the country established labor unions to launch a powerful counterattack. The significance of this is immeasurable. While this may seem to be a small beginning, it promises a great future.
During the New Year holidays, members of various civic organizations and labor unions established a tent village in Hibiya Park in Tokyo for workers who were laid off and forced to leave their dormitories in the dead of winter to find shelter. Volunteers came from around the country to help to provide relief supplies. Donations also came from around the country. It should be the government's responsibility to provide such a shelter for them. It is great that a warm and humane solidarity movement arose to push the government into action. The JCP is determined to work in solidarity with their struggles.
In any struggles that have important bearings on the well-being of the public, the Japanese Communist Party is working in support of grassroots struggles by helping to create networks of heart-to-heart solidarity throughout Japan to implement its founding spirit, which is to work hard to reduce people's hardships. We are proud of the role we are playing in this effort. I would like to call for the social solidarity launched last year to be further developed into an effort to change the fundamental structure of politics this year.
Secondly, it is important that the JCP established a foothold for devising a strategy to break through the anticommunist stance taken in the effort to establish a "two-party system" in Japan.
In this struggle, we criticize the ruling Liberal Democratic and Komei parties for implementing and maintaining the policy of serving the interests of large corporations and the United States. We also criticize the opposition Democratic Party for failing to pursue a policy of defeating the power and influence of these two interests. We also should keep in mind that criticism alone is not enough to drum up support for the JCP. When we issue a clear political message to inform the public of the JCP's aim and concrete activities, we must not fail to criticize other parties for deploying an anticommunist attack. This is essential for us to expand support for the JCP.
In this regard, it is important that the JCP has put up slogans, "Change policies" and "Put an end to 'two political ills' (pro-big business policy and subservience to the United States)." The party has made policy proposals concerning employment, the health insurance system for the elderly aged 75 and over, the revitalization of agriculture, the global environment, and economic recovery. Our struggle inside and outside of the Diet to influence government policies has produced various results vis-?-vis large corporations.
This is how the JCP devotes itself to the effort to reduce people's hardships and shows its comprehensive strategy to change Japanese politics. This political attitude of the JCP is seen in stark contrast with the ruling LDP-Komei coalition and the DPJ, who are, in essence, absorbed in party politics as usual. The JCP is actually gaining in public trust.
Thirdly, we have launched a powerful drive to attract a million people to local JCP meetings to explain how the JCP Program envisages Japan's future. This is the first JCP campaign of this kind. About two thirds of the JCP branches nationwide held such meetings with a total of 580,000 people attending. If the number of participants in JCP speech assemblies and symposiums is added, it will total more than a million. In response to the JCP Central Committee's call for JCP speech rallies and meetings to be held at all municipal levels in every local administrative district/municipality, local JCP branches have held meetings or speech rallies at 1,860 out of the 1,942 municipalities throughout Japan, including one on a distant and small island.
Thus, the united effort is the key to increasing all party activities. It is also an important source of party activities. Let us now increase our efforts to attract more than one million people to branch-sponsored meetings across the country, so that all party activities can make a major leap.
We made an historic success in recruiting new JCP members and will made steady efforts to continue with day-to-day activities to win more new members
Fourthly, last year we succeeded in producing an upward trend in our organizational buildup.
In the effort to increase the party membership, more than 1,000 new members joined the JCP in December alone. We increased our membership for 14 consecutive months. Since the JCP Central Committee 5th Plenum in September 2007, we received 14,000 new members. I express my hearty welcome to all new JCP members.
Regarding the readership of Akahata, the monthly total readership of daily and weekly Akahata increased for eight consecutive months to December last year, the first such success in 35 years. Throughout last year, the number of both daily and weekly Akahata subscribers increased. This was for the first time in 21 years.
On behalf of the JCP Central Committee, I express my respect and gratitude to all JCP members who worked hard last year with firm determination to win a victory in the upcoming House of Representatives general election.
This progress in party buildup is significant because it was achieved not only through one particular activity but through various activities in a comprehensive manner. It is also important to note that the JCP membership is increasing in workplaces and among young people, which is important not just for our victory in the upcoming general election but also for the future of the JCP.
I think that it is historic for the party to continue to increase both the membership and the readership of the daily and weekly Akahata throughout the last year. I want to call on all party members to keep these advances going this year.
I call on all JCP branches to win new members and reach the numbers we had at the time of the last general election as quickly as possible in preparation for the House of Representatives general election.
I really hope that all JCP members continue to achieve progress even after the election and consider this year as the first year to take on the challenge of strengthening the JCP through day-to-day efforts with the view of establishing a democratic coalition government.
After suffering a setback in the House of Councilors election in 2007, the JCP Central Committee at its 5th Plenum characterized the emerging situation as one that would pave the way for a JCP advance in a new political process that allows the public to explore a new political direction to replace the LDP-Komei politics. At that time, the definition called for a lot of discussion to have this understood. In retrospect, however, the year 2008 unmistakably will be remembered as the beginning of a movement toward political progress, with the JCP as its driving force at the grassroots struggle. This is a clear illustration of the unyielding effort of the JCP. I keenly feel that the JCP Program has shown its strength in leading the JCP into such an expansion.
With the two components of its control tower crumbling at the same time, LDP politics now finds itself adrift and rudderless, with nowhere to go. In contrast, the JCP Program stands out as a steady compass showing Japan's future course. Let us have deep confidence in this and achieve further JCP advances.
Whether our last year's efforts bear fruit or not depends on our day-to-day struggles ahead. Let us do our utmost to mark 2009 as a milestone by achieving a JCP advance in the general election of the House of Representatives and in the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly election, as well as with a major first step toward establishing a democratic government in which the people are the key players.
- Akahata, January 6, 2009